SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — At the Springfield City Council meeting Monday, Oct. 17, city leaders heard from the health department about a growing concern for people in the Greene County area.

The bill the city council was voting on would allow the Springfield-Greene County Health Department to accept a $162,500 grant from the Centers for Disease Control to help combat growing rates of sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

“Sexually transmitted diseases are unfortunately on the rise,” said Jon Mooney, the assistant director for the health department. “Especially when you look at gonorrhea and syphilis.”

Mooney told council members that these diseases have been on the rise nationally for roughly 10 years. He added that those trends are the same for the Greene County area, with one exception: syphilis.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen syphilis increase since 2015 to today,” Mooney said. “We’ve seen those rates increase 13-fold.”

280 cases of syphilis in the area have been reported to the health department in the last year. Each month of the past year, the department has seen as many cases as it saw for all of 2015.

A specific health concern the area has seen more of lately is congenital syphilis, which is when a pregnant mother passes the disease on to her child.

“It can be a pretty serious disease at that point,” Mooney said. “It often can lead to miscarriage, or if the baby survives to birth, it can lead to life-long impacts.”

The money that the health department will get from the CDC will allow it to combat the growing rates of syphilis in Greene County. With this money, the department can hire more specialized employees to investigate the disease and manage individual cases. Mooney said that the department is increasing its efforts to slow the rate of syphilis over the next two to three years, but it will also focus on other sexually transmitted infections.

The council unanimously voted to give the health department the funding for the project.